Finding the right hearing aid to serve your auditory needs can be a bit overwhelming with all of the options to choose from. Just making the decision to take action to improve hearing loss is a great first step towards maintaining overall health. Hearing impairment can lead to a range of health issues and other complications that can impact independent living.
How do hearing aids work?
These days, virtually all hearing aids operate using digital technology which can be personalized to meet particular user needs. Based on the results of your hearing test, the hearing aid is then programmed to match the specific hearing loss patterns indicated by those results. Digital hearing aids often come equipped with features that automatically adjust depending on your surrounding environment.
Three Part System
Hearing aids generally work based on a three step method:
1. Analog sounds are received by the microphone and converted into digital data
2. The digital signal is then amplified to increase its strength
3. The amplified signal is then converted back into sound waves and transmitted into the ear
Do hearing aids restore hearing to original levels?
Although hearing aids are not capable of completely restoring hearing ability, they are very effective at amplifying the soft or high-pitch sounds that most people with hearing loss have difficulty with.
Best Hearing Aids: Styles & Types
There are a diverse range of options to choose from when selecting the best hearing aids depending on budget, size, style, severity of hearing loss, and personal preferences.
Some of the basic styles available to choose from include:
· CIC – Completely In Canal
· ITC – In The Canal
· ITE – In The Ear
· BTE – Behind The Ear
· RIC & RITE – Receive In Canal & Receiver In The Ear
CIC – Completely In Canal
The smallest and least noticeable hearing aid style is the CIC model. This type is designed for mild to moderate hearing loss.
Advantages of CIC hearing aids include:
· Highest degree of concealment
· Good resistance to wind noise
· Small batteries
Disadvantages of CIC hearing aids include:
· No manual volume control
· No directional mic
· Vulnerable to ear wax clogs which can impact performance
ITC – In The Canal
This style is custom molded to fit partially in the ear canal. It is designed for mild to moderate hearing loss.
Advantages of ITC hearing aids include:
· Partial concealment to be less noticeable than larger styles
· Option for extra features not available on CIC types
· Good stability and power for size
Disadvantages of ITC hearing aids:
· Small size can make features difficult to adjust
· Susceptible to ear wax clogs
· Potential for feedback
ITE – In the Ear
ITE hearing devices come in two styles: full shell and half shell. Both designs are placed in the bowl shape area of the outer ear and are effective for mild to severe hearing loss.
Advantages of ITE hearing aids include:
· Easy to operate and manage
· Offer more features like manual volume control
· Longer battery life
Disadvantages of ITE hearing aids include:
· More susceptible to wind interference
· Potential for earwax clogging
· More visible than smaller devices
BTE – Behind The Ear
This style hooks over the top of the ear and rests behind the back of it and a tube connects to an earpiece in the ear canal. This style is versatile to accommodate almost any type of hearing loss.
Advantages of BTE hearing aids include:
· Powerful amplification
· Low maintenance
Disadvantages of BTE hearing aids include:
· Susceptible to wind interference
· Less discreet
RIC & RITE – Receive In Canal & Receiver In The Ear
These two styles are very similar to the BTE style with the difference being that a small wire instead of a tube is used to connect the pieces. They are effective for almost any degree of hearing loss.
Advantages of RIC & RITE hearing aids:
· Smaller behind the ear piece
· Reduced feedback
· Smaller size with good amplification power
Disadvantages of RIC & RITE hearing aids:
· Susceptible to ear wax clogs
· Ear tips should be changed from time to time
Need more information about hearing aid devices or an in-home hearing test?
Mobile hearing clinic services are available throughout the greater Vancouver area with Hear at Home. The experts at Hear at Home can offer experienced advice about hearing aids and hearing loss, and can even perform hearing tests in the comfort of home to determine the best course of action to deal with hearing impairment.